Mausoleo di Augusto (Augustus’ Tomb) ☆☆☆

The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public), Mausoleo di Augusto, Rome, Italy (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public)

The tomb of the emperor Augustus

Directly across from the museum housing Augustus' Ara Pacis altar, in one of Rome's most hideous, Fascist-designed piazze, lie the rotund brick remains of the tomb of the Emperor Augustus himself.

The Mausoleum of Augustus once housed the remains of Rome's first emperor—born Octavian Thurinus, adopted by Julius Caesar, starting his rule officially in 31 BC, and dying, as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, in AD 14.

The mausoleum also contained the remains of his family, his general Agrippa, and every Roman emperor up to Nerva (who died AD 98).

After it was an Imperial tomb...

After Nerva came Emperor Trajan who—I guess figuring it was getting a bit crowded in the imperial tomb—had his ashes placed at the base of Trajan's Column.

The following emepror, Hadrian, did him one better and built his own, much larger tumulus tomb across the Tiber River; it now forms the foundations of Castel Sant'Angelo.

This original Imperial tomb remained revered thoughout the era of Imperial Rome. Sadly, however, during the fall of Rome invading barbarians sacked the tomb.

They took the fabulous urns containing the family's remains, and unceremoniously dumped the imperial ashes onto the floor to make off with the urns as booty. (So I guess, technically, some bits of Augustus and his family probably still are in here, just ground deeply into the centuries of dirt on the floor.)

This ring of brick 295 feet in diameter was once crowned with a dirt mound and cypress trees, but has been so abused throughout the centuries—in the Middle Ages it was a fortress, then became an amphitheater in the baroque era for cockfights and bear baiting, and finally was used as a concert halluntil 1936—that we're lucky the body survives with a few plaques of the old marble cladding still in place.

Home to a homeless shanty town and vast colony of cats in the 1980s, the ancient tomb is now being better excavated and restored.

In years past, it has been open by appointment, but the present and future of this is uncertain. (It is slowly being restored—how slowly? It was originally slated to open in March 2017.) You can always try calling tel. 06-0608 or 06-6710-3819 and asking.

Photo gallery
  • The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public), Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
  • The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in May 2017 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public), Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by TIMnewsroom)
  • The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2015 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public), Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Mister No)
  • Inside the mausoleum, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Kevin J. Norman)
  • A reconstruction of the tomb as it appears in the massive scale model of Ancient Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)
  • The Augusteo-Correa Amphitheater in the 1910s, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Unknown)
  • The Auditorium Augusteo-Correa after its destruction in 1936, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo by Unknown)
  • A reconstruction of the tomb, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Illustration of the mausoleum of Augustus by Etienne Dupérac c. 1600, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Graphic simulation of the original architecture of the Augustan (Mausoleum of Augustus) from 1851, Mausoleo di Augusto, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
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Tips

How long does Augustus' Tomb take?

Since it's not normally open, you just look at it in passing en route to the Ara Pacis across the street. 30 seconds

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).